Nov 1, 2007

People of the Blue Water

A Record of Life Among the Walapai and Havasupai Indians
by Flora Gregg Iliff

In the 1900's Flora Gregg left her home in Oklahoma and traveled to nothern Arizona to teach natives of the Walapai and Havasupai tribes on an Indian reservation. Living in a canyon eight miles deep and difficult to access, the tribe was seldom approached by outsiders and little influenced by the modern world. Gregg gives descriptions of the tribal life and customs, skills used to survive the hostile natural environment of the canyon, and changes and conflict the Walapai people faced as they were confronted with modern culture when explorers, traders and missionaries penetrated their secret haven. Well-meaning persons sent by the US Government attempted to operate schools in the community and change some of their customs to "assimilate" them into modern society, isolated as they were. Not surprisingly, the Havasupai resisted these intrusions into their lifestyle.

Besides being a schoolteacher, Flora Gregg performed roles as a doctor and judge, and sent reports as a "superintendent" to the Government. A very straightforward book, People of the Blue Water is as much a diary of her years among the Havasupai people as it is a documentary account. It provides an excellent portrait of life among a little-known native tribe in an isolated environment, as well as an honest look at the struggles and influences of missionaries and Government workers among them at the turn of the century.

Rating: 4/5                271 pages, 1985


Nyssaneala said...

That sounds like an interesting book.

I didn't realize you were in Baltimore as well!

Jeane said...

Yes; although I have only been here for a year.